HANDING two silver medals and a bronze to the Philippines in the just-concluded Tokyo Olympic Games, the national boxing team did well and provided a glimpse of how bright the future of the sport in the country can be.
“Though we fell short in our bid to win the gold, our boxers achieved something that had never been done before. Like I mentioned before, this group is special and what they did in Tokyo will stand the test of time, a testament that nothing is impossible,” said boxing analyst Nissi Icasiano in an online interview with BusinessWorld.
Filipino boxers landed on the podium three times out of a possible four, led by the silver-medal finishes of women’s featherweight Nesthy A. Petecio and men’s flyweight Carlo Paalam.
Ms. Petecio, 29, settled for a silver medal at the Olympics after bowing to Japanese Sena Irie by unanimous decision in the finals of the women’s featherweight boxing tournament at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on Aug. 3.
Many pundits and observers felt Davao native Ms. Petecio did enough to win the gold over Ms. Irie, who employed much holding and clinching throughout the contest, but in the end just could not get the nod of the judges, losing, 5-0.
Four days later, Mr. Paalam, 23, duplicated the feat of Ms. Petecio, bagging the silver in a gallant stand against Olympic veteran Galal Yafai of Great Britain.
Mr. Paalam lost to Mr. Yafai by split decision, 4-1,
Despite suffering a knockdown in the first round, the Filipino fighter ended the fight strong, landing solid shots to narrow the gap.
Mr. Yafai moved to win the contest, with four judges scoring the fight, 29-28, for him while one went with Mr. Paalam, 29-28.
The silver medals from Tokyo were the fourth for Philippine boxing in the Olympics, in addition to those won by Anthony Villanueva (1964) and Mansueto Velasco (1996).
Eumir Felix D. Marcial took home bronze in the middleweight division but not after making noise with dominant victories in his early fights and narrowly losing in a close and action-filled fight in the semifinals against Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine.
Women’s flyweight Irish Magno, 30, was the other Filipino boxer who competed and made it to the Round of 16.
“It’s the first time since 2004 that we had four boxers representing our country. To make it more special, two of them are women. This feat alone just assures us that the future is bright. These men and women just provided the future generation a blueprint to success,” said Mr. Icasiano.
The analyst went on to say that following the national boxing team’s campaign at the Tokyo Games, any notion that Filipino boxers cannot win a gold should be cast aside.
“We shouldn’t think of the notion that the gold medal is elusive. It’s actually doable. It took us 89 years to get to this moment. It just makes me excited for things to come,” Mr. Icasiano said.
Next for the Philippine boxers are the Southeast Games and Asian Games next year while Mr. Marcial looks to grow his career as a professional fighter as well. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo